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Polish pride on display at festival

Gymnastic association hosting seventh annual Polish Fest

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The Sokol Polish Folk Ensemble, the resident dance group of the Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol Winnipeg, will perform at Polish Fest.

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The Sokol Polish Folk Ensemble, the resident dance group of the Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol Winnipeg, will perform at Polish Fest. Photo Store

Ain’t no party like a Polish party.

The Polish Gymnastic Association Sokol Winnipeg, is presenting its seventh annual Polish Fest-Sokol Days on Sat., June 7 and Sun., June 8 at the Garden City Community Centre (725 Kingsbury Ave.).

Polish Fest co-ordinator Ilona Niemczyk said Sokol previously took part in Folklorama, but decided to pack its Polish party into two days as opposed to a whole week.

"Folklorama is very time-consuming, people take weeks of holidays just to work the actual one week of volunteering, so we thought we’d do something different and have just a two-day event," Niemczyk said.

In addition to Polish cuisine like perogies, potato pancakes, barbecued kielbasy, cabbage rolls and borscht, Polish Fest features entertainment by the Polish Folk Dance Ensemble SPK Iskry, the Sokol Polish Folk Ensemble and folk band Kapela Czerwona Rzeka. The festival also features plenty of Polish vodkas and beers at its bar, a beer garden and Saturday night social, which goes until 1 a.m.

Polish Fest also includes kid’s activities, a Polish store and Polish exhibitors and merchants
Niemczyk, who was born in Poland, moving to Canada when she was one, said she’s very proud of her roots, even if they sometimes seemed like a hassle as a youngster.

"Because our family is an immigrant family, we had to go to Polish school on Saturdays, and also Polish dancing and Polish mass," Niemczyk said.

"I’m fluent, and I’m thankful for it now, but when you’re a kid its tough going to five days of regular school and then on Saturdays you still have to go to Polish school. But, I totally appreciate it now. I’m very proud to be Polish."

Niemczyk said she danced with Iskry for 20 years and that her daughter Gabriella dances with Iskry’s School of Dance.

"It’s full-circle in that sense," Niemczyk said.

In addition to Polish performers, this year’s Polish Fest also features contributions from other cultures, including Ukrainian, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian and Portuguese entertainment.
Niemczyk said that openness is typical of Polish people.

"The hospitality," said Niemczyk on her favourite part about Polish culture.
"That’s not limited to the Polish people, but food and drink is so much a part of our culture.

When you go to someone’s house, they host you and they’re so hospitable."

For more information on Polish Fest, go to www.polishfestwinnipeg.com

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